Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vegan MoFo Day 26: I wouldn't call this fasting...

Most traditional religions include periods of fasting through the year, and the Orthodox Church is no exception. Orthodox fasting rules vary according to the season or holy day, but during some parts of the year the fast amounts to veganism (sometimes also excluding oil, which results in interesting low-fat and fat-free vegan recipes).

I'm not a fan of seeing vegan food as a cleanse or fast or detox or whatever. It's a satisfying and wholesome way to eat, period. Regardless, the Orthodox fasting rules have resulted in many (mostly vegan) fasting or Lenten cookbooks. Even regular Orthodox church-lady cookbooks usually include a large fasting section. Whenever I am near an Orthodox church or bookstore, I look for cookbooks, and now have quite a collection. (In Nashville, check out the Alektor Cafe and Bookstore - they usually have several in stock.)

I had some eggplant that needed to be used, so I pulled down The Festive Fast: Greek Meatless Cooking in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition by Marigoula Kokkinou & Georgia Kofinas, a consistently reliable source of good ideas. I messed around with their "Baked Eggplant with Walnuts" recipe, altering it enough that I don't mind giving you the details of what I did:

Preheat oven to 400. Wash 1 lb eggplant, trim off ends, and slice lengthwise into thin slices. (As my eggplant were young and organic, I did not peel them. In retrospect, I suggest using 2 lbs of eggplant, as the recipe makes plenty of topping.) Drop the eggplant slices into boiling salted water for only 2-3 minutes, and then drain. Place them in a casserole dish, and sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika to taste. Pour a little olive oil over the eggplant, add about 1/3 cup of all purpose flour (or 2/3 if using the larger eggplant amount), and toss until combined. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put 7 oz walnuts in the food processor with 4 cloves of garlic, 4 T red wine vinegar, and about 2-3 T water, and process until you have a thick paste. (To make it easy to peel multiple cloves of garlic, gather them on the counter, and give them a good smack with the back of a cast iron skillet to loosen their dry outer skins.) Spread the walnut paste over the top of the eggplant casserole, lower the oven temperature to 350, and bake for 20 more minutes. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Ooo this sounds really good, I have an eggplant in the fridge that I haven't decided on what to do with it yet, maybe I will make this.

My family is Orthodox too, my grandma doesn't remember much anymore and every time I visit her she asks if I want bacon or chicken or whatever and I tell her I can't because I am fasting and it makes her so happy.

JohnP said...

what a great way to deal with your grandma's questions!

bazu said...

yay for greek orthodox fasting! it led to the creation of one of my all-time favorite tahini cakes. yum.